Tag Archives: Documentary

Raoul Peck on ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ & James Baldwin

In such troubled times as our current moment, where Western society seems doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past by stalling or demolishing progress in various forms, it is important to take heed of the words of those whose commentary has only become more relevant with time.

The late James Baldwin was an American novelist, playwright, essayist, political activist and social critic, best known for his articulations of the unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual and class tensions in Western societies. Being both black and gay gave Baldwin an insight into very specific experiences, but Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, himself a political activist, believes that Baldwin’s words resonate beyond race and sexuality…

Full interview for The Skinny

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Lost in France (Niall McCann, 2016)

In the late 1990s, a group of musicians involved with Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow-based independent record label, hired a bus and went on a road trip to a town in rural France to play a one-off concert. Two decades on, a reprisal of the trip for some of those originally involved is the backbone for Lost in France, director Niall McCann’s affectionate, intimate documentary on the label – exploring what’s made Chemikal Underground and its acts endure for 20-odd years…

Full review for VODzilla.co

All This Panic (Jenny Gage, 2016)

The closing credits of documentary All This Panic commence with “A Film by Jenny Gage and Thomas Betterton,” an unusual credit in that Betterton is otherwise not listed as a director for the film, but as cinematographer and also one of the producers. The attribution feels appropriate, though, as the combination of Betterton and Gage (who herself has a background in art photography) both went about documenting the subjects of their movie over the course of three years, primarily in intimate, small group set-ups and with camera lenses more commonly used in narrative filmmaking…

Full review for The Skinny

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny (Louis Black/Karen Bernstein, 2016)

A couple of years back, critic-turned-director Gabe Klinger made a film called Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater. Instead of a traditional documentary tour of the respective filmographies of his director subjects, Klinger instead presented a series of extended chats between Linklater and his (perhaps unexpected) friend Benning, the latter being an older filmmaker better known to fans of the experimental and avant-garde. It allowed you to get a sense of Linklater’s ideas as an artist through more laidback means, rather befitting of the nature of his films, as he goes about doing various activities with Benning, such as hiking or playing catch, offering anecdotes to the other artist, instead of delivering filmmaking mantras to camera in an interview set-up.

Flash forward to 2016 and now we have Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, a biographical portrait of Linklater alone that’s certainly much less innovative in terms of form, and ultimately feels less insightful. The personal connection isn’t lost, though. Dream Is Destiny is co-directed by Louis Black, a founder of the South By Southwest festival that has played host to many of Linklater’s films across his career. Occasional actor Black can also be found in Linklater’s breakthrough film Slacker, credited as Paranoid Paper Reader…

Full review for VODzilla.co

Gary Numan: Android in La La Land (Rob Alexander/Steve Read, 2016)

With so many music documentaries around that focus on great artists with a tendency towards egomania, it’s refreshing to find one that’s about a musician – and a highly influential one at that – who seems entirely uninterested in self-mythologising. Android in La La Land profiles electro pop pioneer Gary Numan, who was derided and revered in the press in equal measure as he went about selling millions of albums in the late 1970s and early ’80s, before it all came crashing down…

Full review for Little White Lies

A Snapshot of American Independent Cinema in 2016

After taking a year off in 2015, the team behind Sundance London returned this year to give UK audiences a snapshot of what’s cooking on the American indie scene, with the lavish Picturehouse Central acting as the festival’s new hub for UK or European premieres of some of the buzziest titles to have emerged from Sundance in January. Here’s an unranked top five of our highlights of what we did manage to catch, some of which will be arriving in UK cinemas soon…

Full feature for The Skinny

A brilliant film about pregnancy plays at IndieLisboa

When it comes to browsing a festival programme, it’s usually wise to take any blurb comparisons to other filmmakers or famous films with a pinch of salt – just how many times have you seen anything with dark, violent comedy get explicitly compared to the Coen brothers?

The catalogue for this year’s IndieLisboa International Film Festival, based in the Portuguese capital, offered a particularly curious comparison point, describing Petra Costa and Lea Glob’s Olmo and the Seagull as, ‘the most powerful film about maternity since Rosemary’s Baby.’ Considering that the film is a fiction/non-fiction hybrid and not an out-and-out genre piece, the reference to Roman Polanski’s classic chiller certainly creates some intrigue. While it never veers into the realm of the fantastical, the link does feel appropriate, particularly in how Glob and Costa create a fragmented, hallucinatory portrait of the toll of pregnancy which comes with an element of the claustrophobic – a documentary by way of psychological thriller…

Full feature for Little White Lies